Edited Pimlico Staff Release – Trainer Brad Cox didn’t necessarily look for his Preakness Stakes (G1) contender First Mission to work five-eighths of a mile in 59.20 seconds as soon as the Churchill Downs track opened at 5:30 Saturday morning. But he certainly wasn’t surprised that Godolphin’s homebred colt, who is 3-for-3 after winning Keeneland’s Stonestreet Lexington (G2) went so fast a week before the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at Baltimore’s historic Pimlico Race Course.
“It’s him,” Cox said. “He’s gotten better as the year’s gone on. He seems to be thriving right now. That’s really what you want to see going up to a big race. I like quick times, but I’m more interested in how they’re doing it. And I love what we saw this morning.”
Working with stablemate Tapit’s Conquest, First Mission’s time was the fastest of 24 at the distance. Second-fastest was the 59.60 recorded by Tapit’s Conquest as well as, in a separate work, Interstatedaydream, last year’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) winner that Cox plans to run in this year’s $100,000 Allaire du Pont Distaff this coming Friday at 1 1/8 miles.
“He broke off well in hand; (I’m) happy with the way he was moving and how he galloped out – and happy with the way he looked when he got back to the barn” Cox said of First Mission. “It didn’t seem to take much out of him. Look, we’re in a good spot. He’s had a couple of solid, solid works the last few weeks. He’s going to have to step up and run a solid race next week. If he does, I think he’ll be in the mix. He’s a good colt. We think a lot of him, and we’ll see what happens.”
Cox said his Pimlico-bound horses are likely to train Monday morning at Churchill Downs before vanning to Pimlico later that day.
Mage Gallops Saturday Before Heading to Pimlico
Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage had his last training session at Churchill Downs Saturday morning. He galloped under J.J. Delgado, who is no relation to the Florida-based trainers Gustavo Delgado Sr. and Jr., though from the same town in Venezuela, where the elder Delgado was a training legend before coming to America a decade ago.
Mage and the Delgados’ other two horses stabled at Churchill Downs are scheduled to leave Louisville late Saturday afternoon or early evening and expected to arrive at Pimlico Race Course early Sunday morning for the May 20 Preakness Stakes.
“Full of energy,” Delgado Jr. said. “J.J., the exercise rider, is very happy with him.”
On preparing to leave Louisville with a Kentucky Derby winner, the younger Delgado said: “It’s amazing. I’m so grateful to the horse. He’s so special. To all the horses. My dad has dedicated his whole life to horses, so it’s not just one horse.”
Blazing Sevens ‘Worked Super’ for May 20 Preakness
Rodeo Creek Racing’s Champagne (G1) winner Blazing Sevens breezed five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.02 Saturday morning at Belmont Park, his final timed work for the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.
Trainer Chad Brown, a two-time winner of the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, said it was very likely that he would ship the Good Magic colt from Belmont to Baltimore on Sunday.
Blazing Sevens has worked four times since he finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on April 8 at Keeneland. Brown and the owners opted not to run in the Kentucky Derby (G1) to prepare for the Preakness. It is similar to the path Brown followed with his Preakness winners, Cloud Computing (2017) and Early Voting (2022).
Brown used one word, “excellent,” to describe the work, the fastest of 11 recorded workouts at the distance.
“Irad Ortiz came out and worked him,” Brown said. “He’s ridden him once and had never worked him before. I just wanted a little bit more experience between the two of them together. The horse worked super.”
Confidence Game Out of Preakness
Trainer Keith Desormeaux said Saturday morning that Oaklawn Park’s Rebel (G2) winner Confidence Game will not make the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1). Confidence Game finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
“He trained all right this morning. He’s just not 100 percent,” Desormeaux said. “He’s got something aggravating him in the right front shoulder area. We’re going to send him to Dr. (Larry) Bramlage (at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital) and let him do full diagnostics and let him advise us on how to proceed. He’s good, but he’s not Preakness perfect.”
Coffeewithchris Joins Preakness Field
The connections of Coffeewithchris alerted the Pimlico Race Course racing officials Saturday morning that the Maryland-bred son of Ride on Curlin is being pointed toward a start in the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1).
The Maryland-based multiple-stakes winner had been entered for Saturday’s Long Branch at Monmouth but was scratched in favor of a run in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. John Salzman Sr., Fred Wasserloos, and Anthony Geruso’s Coffeewithchris most recently finished fifth in the Federico Tesio, a win-and-in Preakness prep at Laurel Park.
“Our plan was to run in the Preakness. We were hoping to win the Tesio. The biggest thing is coming up with the money sometimes. I’m a poor working guy. Thirty thousand is a lot of money,” trainer John Salzman Jr. said “I looked at the Long Branch. It wasn’t an easy spot. If it was an easy spot, I might have gone on to the Long Branch. I worked it out to come up with the funds to take a chance. I don’t get to take a chance very often.”
Jaime Rodriguez will ride Coffeewithchris, who captured the Miracle Wood and finished second in the Private Terms at Laurel Park.
Chase the Chaos Prepares for Cross-Country Preakness Trip
Bill Dory and Adam Ference’s Chase the Chaos walked Saturday morning at Golden Gate Fields, one day after turning in his final timed work for the May 20 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. The son of Astern covered five furlongs in 1:00.80 over the all-weather track.
Trainer Ed Moger Jr. said he moved the planned work ahead by one day because the gelding is being shipped from California to Maryland on Tuesday. Moger said that the track at Golden Gate Fields is closed on Mondays, and he wanted to see Chase the Chaos on the track following the breeze before putting him on a plane. By training Friday, Chase the Chaos could walk Saturday and go back to the track on Sunday.
“He worked brilliant,” Moger said.
The veteran trainer said he expects to have settled on a jockey to ride Chase the Chaos by the end of the weekend.
Chase the Chaos earned an expense-paid berth in the 148th Preakness with this victory in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 11 at Golden Gate Fields.